The Psychology of Gift-Giving.

Did you know that for some people, gift giving is the main way they know they’re loved? It’s true according to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of “The 5 Love Languages“. He says gifts are universal, “There is something inside the human psyche that says if you love someone you will give to him or her”.

Imagine this…you’re at work and it’s a busy day. As you’re walking clients to a lunch meeting in the city you pass a beautiful little bookstore with a window display featuring Ireland. This immediately makes you think of your spouse. You know how much they’ve been dreaming of traveling to Ireland, ever since they were 5 years old. But life has been busy and that dream trip hasn’t happened yet. After lunch and before your next meeting, even though you don’t really have time, you run into the store and purchase a travel guidebook to Ireland for your spouse. You know they’ll love it.

“If you speak this (love) language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you.” says Dr. Chapman. Gifts, like the one above, show that you care and are scanning your environment in ways that aren’t purely selfish, even when under stress.

So, how do you pick the perfect gift? This can be tricky, but not as tricky as we once thought. New research from Frank Flynn and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business says to give them the gift they expect. This will be enjoyed more than gifts that weren’t requested.

If this is the case then amp up your listening skills! “In any setting, business or personal, it’s best to let the other person tell you what they want. Don’t try to mind read.” says Professor Flynn.

But what if you’re just getting to know someone? Pay attention to what they say. People drop hints all the time and mostly unconsciously. What’s their favorite band? What do they eye as you pass store windows? What are they passionate about? Or, if you’re brave enough, simply ask.

Remember, some people know they are loved through the medium of gifts, give them the gift they expect, and pay attention and listen to those you love. These basic ideas are part of the psychology behind gift giving and will give you a sweet advantage on your next shopping trip.

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